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Learning about love

Connie is my mother-in-law. She is 95 and has been in the memory loss unit of an assisted living home in Huntsville for a number of years. As with most people with dementia, she has days that are good and days that aren’t. This past Christmas was our turn in "the rotation," which as any self-respecting parent with married children knows, meant that they and their families would be traveling from North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee to spend Christmas with us. Our son and his family (the Arkansas contingent) stopped in Huntsville to spend some time with her before heading our way.

Connie has a book that my wife and youngest daughter put together for her. It is a book of memories that consists of pictures and simple narrative in regard to the significant people and events of her life. There are pictures of her brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even those of us who were grafted into the family tree have a spot in the book. The person who owns the pre-eminent place in the book is her husband Reed. They were married for 72 years before he passed away.

On this day Connie is doing well. Maybe it’s the three great-grandsons five years and younger that have sparked her. (They definitely have a sparking capability). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the oldest of those boys is named Reed. Who can say? I suppose if you could, we would be well on the way to figuring out what causes this terrible disease that unravels people like thread off a spool.

Our son notices that she is reading every word in the book. No stumbles, mispronunciations or omitted words on this day. When they are almost the end of the book, they come to a passage of Scripture—1 Corinthians 13. Most of us refer to it as the love passage. Connie continues her reading in an unbroken voice. But here she deviates from the text for the first time. Instead of the familiar, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” she reads, “Reed is patient, Reed is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud.”

All of us have questions as to why God leaves people like Connie on the earth to sit in a memory loss unit of an assisted living home for years upon end. And if you are looking for any kind of a definitive answer here, you have come to the wrong place. But this I know, people like Connie have plenty of things to teach those of us who are hydroplaning through life if we will only slow down long enough to listen and learn.

We're listening Connie.

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